If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is probably your first treatment option. It’s a logical treatment, which uses a machine to generate air and send it to your nose through a face mask with a hose to keep your airway open while you’re asleep.
Although it’s been around for several years and is considered the standard sleep apnea treatment, most people find some problems from using it. Fortunately, the best sleep apnea doctor in Houston recommends some alternatives, and these include the following:
- Oral Devices And Mouthguards
Mandibular Advancing Devices (MADs) are oral devices that resemble sports mouthguards and work in the same manner as snoring mouthpieces. Sleep apnea dentists adjust them to open the airway wider to sleep better. Most of these devices are adjustable as they’re frequently made of silicone or plastic. Others are hinged, which means you can open your mouth even while using the device.
The good thing about sleep apnea oral devices is they’re simple and can be cost-effective. They may also cause temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain and tooth shifting.
- Sleep Apnea Pillow
It’s a wedge pillow that forces you to sleep on their side, allowing you to sleep better. It’s a non-invasive and inexpensive CPAP alternative to manage sleep apnea better. However, patients must know if it’s a viable option for their case based on their sleep study results.
For others, once they lay on their back, their sleep apnea may get worse. Once they lay on their side, it quickly goes away. Therefore, a sleep apnea pillow may help them stay on their side, enabling them to manage sleep apnea effectively.
- Shed A Few Pounds
Being obese or overweight is frequently a major contributor to suffer from sleep apnea. If this is your case, shedding extra pounds may correct the situation. Extra weight may narrow your airway, which deposits fat at your tongue’s base and make it prone to collapse.
For this reason, exercise and diet can be excellent ways to manage sleep apnea. However, although several factors contribute to sleep apnea, it’s still wise to maintain your ideal body weight to improve your health.
- Avoid Alcohol And Sedatives
The use of alcohol and sedatives can relax your upper airway muscles and make them more prone to collapse. Avoiding such agents in the hours before bedtime may boost your symptoms of snoring and sleep apnea. You may also need to be more careful about using some prescription medications, including narcotic pain medications and sleeping pills.
- Sleep Apnea Surgery
There are different surgical procedures that may be performed to eliminate or reduce sleep apnea. The kind of surgery that’s most effective for your condition may depend on the structures that block your breathing during sleep and cause your sleep apnea.
In kids, surgery is the first-line option for those who have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). On the other hand, sleep apnea surgery is just a second-line therapy for adults.
Some of the types of sleep apnea surgery may include the following:
- Jaw Advancement Surgery
Referred to as bimaxillary advancement or maxillomandibular advancement, this surgery is one of the best CPAP alternatives that moves the jaw forward for better breathing.
- Hypopharyngeal Procedures
These surgeries include hyoid suspension, tongue radiofrequency, partial glossectomy, and genioglossus advancement. They can be done alone or with soft palate procedures.
- Soft Palate Procedures
These are the most common surgeries for sleep apnea, which often include uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) and new procedures like lateral pharyngoplasty and sphincter pharyngoplasty.
- Positional Therapy
For several patients with moderate to mild sleep apnea, their sleeping position could mean the difference between getting restful sleep and experiencing apnea. If you’re a back sleeper, your airway tissues may fight against gravity as apnea, which makes it hard for you to breathe and collapse in the long run. With this in mind, positional therapy is often recommended as an alternative for CPAP to manage sleep apnea.
Generally, positional therapy encourages you to sleep on your side, reducing the severity and number of apnea events. Placing a certain item behind your lower back is a simple form of positional therapy, which may help you prevent changing positions. For a more advanced form, devices are used for managing sleep apnea.
Typically, you need to wear a palm-sized device on your chest while you’re sleeping. This device is gentle enough not to wake you up but can effectively ensure a safe position and healthy sleep.
Those are just some of the many alternatives for CPAP to manage sleep apnea. While it’s recommended to still use CPAP, there’s nothing wrong with trying the alternatives above. However, before you seek any sleep apnea treatment, make sure to consult your healthcare professional or doctor. Your physician can discuss which treatment options are best suited for you based on your unique sleep health needs.